[Earlier this year, I visited Swakopmund in Namibia. I share a slide of images taken with my cell phone while visiting the city’s “Alive Desert Snake Park” of the place]
Swakopmund was founded in 1892 as an strategic port for the German troops, that’s why is consider one of the best places to see the traditional german colonial architecture in Africa. Currently the main industry is the extraction of uranium, diamonds and tourism.
The city is invaded by the sand and wind runs with the smell of the sea. Was that subtle relation, between the sand and the sea, was reminded me constantly that we were on the edge of the Namib Desert with the Atlantic Ocean.
Swakopmund has the largest snake park in the country and is in this collection of reptiles that I found an albino rattlesnake. The label of the cage said: “WEST. DIAMOND-BACK RATTLE SNAKE [CROTALUS ATROX] [ALBINO] NORTH AMERICA ILLEGAL IN NAMIBIA”.
There are no rattlesnakes in Africa. The rattlesnake is the ultimate American snake, because it inhabit from the south of Canada to the north of Argentina, so I wonder what this rattlesnake was doing so far from America?
The crawling in snakes is something that interests me in relation to earth and territory. I used to think in the snake as the animal that slips between the border of Mexico and the United States. The snake was an example to say that political boundaries are not respected by nature. Nature has other boundaries and moves under its own rules. It would be ridiculous to say that a rattlesnake was illegally crossing from Sonora to Arizona because it’s the same desert ecosystem, that territory belongs to the rattlesnakes endemically.
But being in Namibia I faced for the first time the idea of an illegal snake. That animal was taken there to be an exotic pet. Then the government of Namibia confiscated it it decided to donated it to the Swakopmund’s Snake Park.
I thought her name was particularly unlucky. Someone associated the angles of its head with the angles of the diamonds. The “DIAMOND RATTLESNAKE”. The head of that snake had really nothing to do with diamonds, but was probably her name the one that made her look like a treasure in that city full of diamond shops.
We were present at the change of cage. The snake keeper was very friendly and allow me to take photos. I noticed that the snake was moving the rattle but the rattle wasn’t making any sound. I realized that this snake was full of fear and didn’t represent a danger for us. The cage door was wide open but the snake insisted on stay in the corners. She feared us more than we did, and even if she kept the poison, was that fear that made her harmless.